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NBA AM: Stoudemire Re-Emerging As Force

Amar’e Stoudemire says he wants to retire in New York and his play is powering the Knicks down the stretch … Did Kevin Durant lock up the MVP award?

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Updated 12 months ago on
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Former All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire Reflects, Talks Future

The New York Knicks took a huge risk in the summer of 2010 by signing forward Amar’e Stoudemire to a colossal five-year, $100 million deal in free agency. In hindsight, the club probably should have went in a different direction to maximize their investment, as Stoudemire’s body hasn’t been able to endure the rigors of the grueling NBA season as of late. Stoudemire has missed a total of 92 games since joining the franchise due to a variety of ailments.

While it is easy to say the Knicks made a mistake investing in an injury prone big man, one could easily point to Stoudemire’s first season in New York as the reason the Knicks were able to get back on track. During his first season in the Big Apple, Stoudemire averaged 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds on 50 percent shooting from the field, leading the Knicks to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

But New York now stands at the proverbial fork in the road. The team is currently on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff chase, All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony is set to test free agency this summer, Stoudemire will be entering the last year of his deal and the club has a new team president in Phil Jackson.

Stoudemire is set to earn $23.4 million next season, the final year of his current deal, and as an expiring contract may have value before the trade deadline. But the veteran makes it completely clear on where he wants to finish out the remainder of his professional career.

“I want to be a Knick for life and win multiple championships here,” Stoudemire told Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report. “I don’t want to go anywhere else, especially with Jackson coming in. He has an incredible legacy; it’s probably unmatched. With a leader like that, it can only become a positive output with that type of leadership. He’s been around great organizations, from Chicago to L.A., so now joining us with the Knicks, it’s great to see. Regarding the Triangle offense, it’s funny because I’ve been hearing that it would be great for me for the past six years. It could be possible that we implement the Triangle offense, and I just can’t wait to perfect whatever system we’re going to be in. I’m ready to get to work now.”

But the biggest offseason for the Knicks will revolve around Anthony and his free agency decision. The Knicks can offer Anthony upwards of $120 million this summer, but there may be suitors that are in a better position to compete for a championship sooner.

Stoudemire says he hasn’t discussed the matter with Anthony in detail, but admits winning at a high level is the high scorer’s top priority.

“As for Melo, I’m not sure what he’s going to do this summer,” Stoudemire said. “We haven’t talked about it. I try to keep that a private conversation. I know he and his family are making a key decision this summer, and we know how great New York is. It’s been a tough year for us because we haven’t been winning, so I know all that plays a factor. I’m sure he talks with his family all the time about it, so I try not to bring that up. We talk winning right now, we talk about the playoffs and keep getting better. This is a big year for us to try to get in this playoffs, and then this summer is going to be very important, and next year we’re going to see what we can do.”

In 206 games with the Knicks, Stoudemire is averaging 18.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. The team has made the playoffs in each season Stoudemire has been in the fold, but face an uphill battle to make the cut in this campaign. New York is currently four games behind Atlanta for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 14 games remaining.

Stoudemire is averaging 17.5 points and 6.1 rebounds on 60 percent in eight March games.

MVP Race Sewn Up For Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant?

As the regular season enters the home stretch, the topic of conversation has shifted from trade rumors to playoff seeding and the annual award races. Arguably the most prestigious regular season individual honor is Most Valuable Player, as it certifies a guy as the top dog for a particular campaign.

Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward  Kevin Durant has been the season-long frontrunner to win his first MVP, but his place at the top came into question after a strong surge by four-time winner LeBron James in mid-February to early March.

However, Durant has likely silenced any of those doubts with his consistency, scoring at least 25 points in 33 consecutive games. There is a legitimate chance Durant can break Michael Jordan’s modern record of 40 straight games with at least 25 points by the end of the season.

In 13 games since the All-Star break, Durant is averaging 33.6 points and 5.7 assists per game.

March Madness is Here

The 2014 NCAA Tournament is underway, and Basketball Insiders has the most in-depth coverage of March Madness you’ll find:

Want a preview of every single NCAA Tournament game? Click here.

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Check back over the next few days for more coverage of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

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Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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